More rain at French tennis Open

Heavy rain prevented any early play in the French Open on Tuesday with defending champion Rafael Nadal due to kick off his campaign on the centre court.

updated: May 31, 2008 12:35 IST
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Heavy rain played havoc with the third day of the French Open on Tuesday as tournament superstars Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova kicked their heels in the locker room.

Action had been scheduled to begin at 11:00 am (0900GMT), but all courts remained covered into the early afternoon with organisers announcing that there would be no play before 1:30 pm (1130GMT).

More rain was expected throughout the day.

A total of 72 first round matches were due to be played, after rain on Monday had left only 26 of the planned 58 ties completed.

Nadal, the triple men's champion, was due to face Brazilian qualifier Thomaz Bellucci with women's top seed Sharapova to take on Russian compatriot Evgeniya Rodina.

The last time a full day's play was lost at the French Open was on the first Tuesday of the 2000 championships, the first time there had been such a washout since 1925.

The backlog was cleared the following day when 21 courts were called into action.

In 2007, only seven of 24 scheduled matches on the opening Sunday were played with the following Monday even more depressing with just seven of 64 planned first round ties completed.

On the Tuesday, the backlog was virtually cleared with 82 matches programmed on 18 courts, the most ties ever scheduled in a single day at Roland Garros.

The players were remaining stoic despite the conditions.

American eighth seed Venus Williams, who needed almost two hours to see off Israel's Tzipora Obziler 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 on Monday to reach the second round, was happy to get the tie finished just as the rain got worse.

"It was strange with the raining and then no raining. It was just important to concentrate, because you can only beat your opponent," said Williams.

"You can't beat the weather. So if it rains, it rains. But thankfully I got through before it started."